Shula de Jersey and Matt Davies write for Law360 discussing the SFO’s future

Shula de Jersey and Matt Davies write for Law360 discussing the SFO’s future

BCL’s Shula de Jersey and Matt Davies write for Law360 analysing what the SFO has achieved so far this year and what could be on the horizon for the agency during the remainder of the year.

Here is a short extract from the article*. If you wish to read the full article, please visit Law360 website.

”The much-anticipated reports by Sir David Calvert-Smith and Brian Altman QC into failings at the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in their Unaoil and Serco investigations were published on 21 July. As Lisa Osofsky, Director of the SFO, said on their publication the reports “are a sobering read”.

Background to the Reviews

On 26 April 2021, the trial of R -v- Woods and Marshall collapsed at Southwark Crown Court when the SFO offered no evidence.  The case concerned the SFO’s prosecution of Mr Woods and Mr Marshall, both former directors of Serco, in relation to allegations of false accounting concerning the provision of electronic monitoring services within the criminal justice system: an investigation which commenced in October 2013.   The collapse of the trial followed the discovery of significant disclosure problems with the trial Judge refusing the SFO’s application for an adjournment.    In May 2021, Lisa Osfosky commissioned Brian Altman QC “to examine the circumstances, facts and matters which caused or contributed to the disclosure failures” in the case.

On 10 December 2021, the Court of Appeal Criminal Division gave judgment in the appeals against conviction of Ziad Akle and the appeal against sentence for Paul Bond.  Both had been convicted of bribery in respect of their involvement in corruption to secure Iraqi oil contracts.   The SFO opened an investigation into Unaoil in July 2016.   The Court of Appeal overturned Akle’s conviction on the basis that the SFO had failed to comply with its disclosure obligations and the trial judge had wrongly refused to order further disclosure with regard to the extent of the SFO’s contact with David Tinsley, a so-called ‘fixer’, who approached the SFO and, in the ensuing dialogue, indicated that he might be able to assist in persuading persons charged by the SFO to plead guilty; he did not, however, represent those people, and the SFO knew they were represented by lawyers in the UK.  Paul Bond subsequently had his conviction overturned in March 2022 with another defendant, Stephen Whiteley’s conviction being overturned in July 2022.”

* This article was first published by Law360 on 18 August 2022.  If you wish you read the full article please visit Law360 website.

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Shula de Jersey is a partner specialising in business crime and regulation. Shula has particular expertise in representing individuals in cases involving allegations of complex and serious fraud, money laundering, bribery and corruption. She has acted in numerous high profile matters. Shula also has experience in health and safety investigations and Coroner’s inquests having represented both individuals and corporates in relation to work place accidents and deaths. Shula has represented professionals including solicitors and doctors in disciplinary matters before regulatory bodies and has previously acted for the Financial Reporting Council in Tribunal proceedings against accountancy firms.

Matt Davies is an associate in BCL’s business crime team. Prior to joining BCL Solicitors, Matt worked on a range of complex disputes involving prosecutors and regulators including the SFO, FCA, FRC, ICO and SEC. He has also assisted with conducting private prosecutions, internal investigations and reviewing internal policies and procedures for large multinational corporations. Matt also has considerable experience with acting for both claimants and defendants in large-scale civil litigation.

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